After working on his novel Family Life for seven years, Akhil Sharma began to lose his mind. Whenever he sat down to write, he began having panic attacks, the kind that left his chest feeling “constantly bruised” for months on end. Eventually, he hit on a solution: he learned to take his mind off his novel by praying for other people.
While working with Australia’s Lajamanu Aboriginal population in remote sections of the Tanami Desert, linguist Carmel O’Shannessy identified “a [new] language system, independent of … other languages” spoken by about 300 people. Since her initial discovery in the late 1990s, O’Shannessy has studied the language and its grammatical structure, and now her findings have been published this month in the journal Language (PDF).
A couple dozen leading literary magazine editors recently found themselves debating “submission fees” in a long, heated, and candid listserv discussion. The complete transcript – names have been changed to protect the innocent – is alternately depressing and heartening. It’s a must-read for anyone who publishes in little magazines, or plans to, or is just curious about how editors see themselves. (Update (11/12): Apparently, the literary magazine that published this content on its website had not been authorized to do so by the Council of Literary Magazines and Small Presses, which administers the listserv. The content has since been taken down; we’ve de-activated the link to reflect that.)
In a long investigation of Hunter S. Thompson’s classic essay, “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved” (PDF), Josh Roiland takes readers to church by pointing out exactly what’s so alluring about the piece, which “scholars often point to … as the origin of Gonzo Journalism.”
If you want to read a book with obscenity in it in Russia after July 1, you’ll find it in a sealed package with a warning label. The law is the latest in Vladimir Putin’s censorship crusade and also bans swearing in films and live performance. Interestingly, the banned words are still up for the debate by the Ministry of Culture. At The New Yorker, David Remnick discusses just how unique and diverse the Russian language’s profanity is.